The Armin Shimerman Interview

He was Quark on DS9 he’s the Author of Illylia: Betrayal of Angels, Armin Shimerman. Armin stopped by spoiler country and had a fantastic conversation with our very own Jeff Haas.

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Jeff Haas: [00:00:00] Hello listeners, a spoiler country today on the show. We have a very special guest, Mr. Armand Sherman. How’s it going, sir?

[00:00:07] Armin Shimerman: [00:00:07] Very good. Thank you. I just got my second COVID shot. No more than about two hours ago.

[00:00:12] Jeff Haas: [00:00:12] Pretty good. Oh, is it it, was it the Madonna? Yes, it was.

[00:00:17] Okay. Well, I wish you luck. I got mine last week. My second shot. It can be a little rough after 24 hours, so I’m glad I have you now and not tomorrow for both of us, but I’m glad you’re feeling well. Thank you so much. I was reading up a little about your life. And I actually read that when you’re age, when you were 16 years old, your mother moved you to Los Angeles and road and enrolled you in the drama program to meet some people.

[00:00:39]Armin Shimerman: [00:00:39] Yes. She was concerned that I wasn’t making any friends and she had a distant cousin who was a drama teacher. I had no desire to go into acting whatsoever, but she introduced me to her cousin, George. And for about two years, I’ve made a Trek out to where he was every Tuesday night and perform scenes and learned about that.

[00:01:01] And the rest is history.

[00:01:02] Jeff Haas: [00:01:02] Now, did you, had you already demonstrated a interest in drama or was something that your mother kind of pulled you into and you kind of got that you discovered later?

[00:01:10]Armin Shimerman: [00:01:10] I was sort of pulled in by my mother. I think she regretted it, but I think no, I don’t think I had any desire to go into the theater.

[00:01:19] I thought at that time that I was going to be an attorney. And and indeed when I entered college my major was poly PSI.

[00:01:27] Jeff Haas: [00:01:27] So was it effective that approved that you find a way to make friends through drama?

[00:01:33] Armin Shimerman: [00:01:33] Yeah, I did. I did the very next year after spending time with George ironically my English teacher at the new high school that I was at asked me to audition for a play that he was directing.

[00:01:44]I thought, okay, well, my not I, it didn’t matter to me whether I got cast or not. And lo and behold, I looked at the board the next day and, and not only had they cast me, but unbeknownst to me, they had cast me as the lead. The play was called, the crucible is called the crucible blur. And I had the good fortune to direct it myself a couple of years ago at the theater that I I’m a part of called auntie.

[00:02:08] Yeah, that is, that is

[00:02:10] Jeff Haas: [00:02:10] very awesome. I mean, someone like myself and I’m also a teacher at a therapeutic high school with a lot of kids who deal with anxiety and had probably issues making connections with other people. And I think that’s very interesting so that the stage was a great way to meet other

[00:02:25] Armin Shimerman: [00:02:25] people.

[00:02:26] It was indeed. And, and some of the people that I met in high school primarily in the drama department became lifelong friends. One of them became a girlfriend, but, but some of them were lifelong friends. And I learned about the community, the theatrical community, which is very tight knit and very supportive.

[00:02:45] So

[00:02:47] Jeff Haas: [00:02:47] what were you the type of kid who did have issues with anxiety and like shyness or were you, or that not the issue at the

[00:02:54] Armin Shimerman: [00:02:54] time? Oh, no. I’ve always had issues with shyness. I’ve learned to overcome it because of the acting and because of doing interviews. But I, my ability to, to become somebody else was a relief.

[00:03:07]And I didn’t have to worry about what I was saying because it was written for me and they couldn’t really say that I was feeling that way because it’s what was written on the page. So it was a solution for my anxiety, my, my concern that I wasn’t living up to other people’s expectations. I learned to live up to my own expectations.

[00:03:26] Jeff Haas: [00:03:26] I think that’s absolutely wonderful. Like I said, someone like myself, who I deal with anxiety all the time, a lot of my students deal with it. I think that’s a really wonderful thing to think that it was theater that helped you break out of the show as it were.

[00:03:38] Armin Shimerman: [00:03:38] It did. It did. And it gave me a community of friends immediately.

[00:03:42] I didn’t have to go out and look for them. And and, and it was enormously helpful. And I, and I have been dependent upon community of friends for ever since most of my life, all of my friends, I would say are friends from the theater. Although I must say, have branched out in other areas and I’ve made friends there, but usually my friends from the theater are the, are the deepest friends are the most long lasting friends.

[00:04:07] Do you think

[00:04:07] Jeff Haas: [00:04:07] that’s because of you to use a title that you used, the crucible of acting the, because you had to perform together, work together. I totally think that helped create

[00:04:16] Armin Shimerman: [00:04:16] the bond when you perform on stage. The other person has to be there for you to catch you and you have to be there to catch them.

[00:04:23]It is a great, a great exercise in trust. And because of that trust, great friendships are formed because of that.

[00:04:33] Jeff Haas: [00:04:33] That is awesome. So, as you said, when you went to UCLA, you first goal was to become a political scientist. That’s

[00:04:40] Armin Shimerman: [00:04:40] right. And I went from being a poly psy major to becoming an English major.

[00:04:45] I never became a theater major. Because really when I went to college, I found my passion for Shakespeare and wanted to study that. As much as I could. And I felt being an English major was more propitious than being a theater major. I was taking theater classes at UCLA and outside of UCLA. And I continued to do that after I graduated, but I, I wanted to learn as much as I could about English.

[00:05:10] And I thought being an English major would do that for me. And of course, here we are talking about a novel I’ve written, which is about Shakespeare. Well,

[00:05:19] Jeff Haas: [00:05:19] I, as someone who teaches high school English, that was the right code, anxious, always the right call.

[00:05:24] Armin Shimerman: [00:05:24] Yeah. Well you know, many people wouldn’t when I’m interviewed are surprised that I wasn’t a theater major, that I wasn’t a cinema major.

[00:05:30]I learnt those, those techniques after I graduated primarily from the doing because I was lucky enough to always have work. I learned from the doing not necessarily from class, although for anyone who’s taking class, I recommend that highly your teachers will teach you great techniques. Well, I, I

[00:05:47] Jeff Haas: [00:05:47] know.

[00:05:47] I mean, what are you doing UCLA? Must’ve been phenomenal because I read that you were one of only eight people out of 900 to be chosen, to be an apprentice at the old globe

[00:05:56] Armin Shimerman: [00:05:56] theater. Yes slightly off 800 people. But there was only eight of us and it was the beginning. Have a, have a long career.

[00:06:04] And the beginning of what I learned to, I learned to trust my luck. And that was the first of many, many, many lucky things that happened to me. And I was very grateful. It was a great learning experience that summer. And some of the people there convinced me to move to New York, which I did right after attending, after being part of the San Diego Shakespeare festival.

[00:06:25] And that again was a lucky event. And and again, very nice things happened because of that.

[00:06:31] Jeff Haas: [00:06:31] And I know you, like you said, you used the word lucky, but once again, it had to be a lot of skill, a lot of talent. What

[00:06:38] Armin Shimerman: [00:06:38] do you mean? A lot of people have skills. A lot of people are very talented, but without luck your career doesn’t progress, I was lucky to have skills and luck and, and you know, people were sort of poopoo the luck, but I take it very seriously.

[00:06:54] Jeff Haas: [00:06:54] So what did you learn at the at the curriculum at the old globe theater that helped you in a way that maybe you wouldn’t have been aware of as an actor?

[00:07:01] Armin Shimerman: [00:07:01] Right? It wasn’t curriculum because I was an actor and I wasn’t taking any classes. I was performing in three Shakespearian plays and watching the elder actors, watching the actors who had been performing Shakespeare for a great long time.

[00:07:16] I learned by watching them and seeing what they did and wondering, well, how do they make that sound? So. Familiar so modern and by watching them and occasionally asking them I learned a great deal. I spent my life watching other performers and questioning how they do that. And, and if I can find the answers, try to incorporate that into my own skills.

[00:07:38] So you guys you

[00:07:38] Jeff Haas: [00:07:38] must have a great ear for language, just the way it turnouts and

[00:07:42] Armin Shimerman: [00:07:42] said, okay. Yeah, I grew up my father was an immigrant. My mother was the child of an immigrant language. There were several languages spoken in my house. I think I do indeed have an ear for language. I speak a little bit of most of the romance languages.

[00:07:59] It is a great disappointment that I still haven’t learned a word of Latin really, but someday I hope to get to that. But I think I do indeed have an ear for languages and because I have an ear for language it parlays not only into my acting, which is when I teach acting languages is central, but it’s also very important for the way I write as well.

[00:08:20] Jeff Haas: [00:08:20] Yeah. Oh, I’ll say Latin extremely hard. I took Latin for a semester in college and my professor told me to leave. It’s a very hard language to learn my exact words. My professor was, if you stay, you will fail. Please get out now. And I said, okay, it’s very hard language

[00:08:40] Armin Shimerman: [00:08:40] happy for you to professors over the course of my career, my career, my Scholastic career did that for me.

[00:08:46] And I’m very grateful that they did. So I’m glad that that happened. Yes.

[00:08:51] Jeff Haas: [00:08:51] So obviously you did become a very social theater actor. You put, you were in place like St. Joan, you played in, remember mama, what is performing live life for me? Is it, I mean, is the energy really that tangible

[00:09:05] Armin Shimerman: [00:09:05] well, Oh my God. It’s night and day, night and day.

[00:09:08] It’s why many actors who from the stage and, and make their living in TV and film almost invariably, try to find a way to get back to the theater. The theater is, again, it’s a trapeze act. You walk out on stage. There’s no net. You have to, you have to be ready and prepared. And it’s always going to be different because every night you have a different audience and because you have a different audience, you have a different energy in the room and you have to, you have to play to that energy and that energy envelops you and changes you TV and film is different.

[00:09:42] It’s a very quiet set. No one’s allowed to move. No one is allowed to talk. And there’s no sense of, of you effecting somebody else except the other actor, which is a good thing, but it’s not the same as knowing that you’re effecting an audience as well. It is my heart belongs to the theater.

[00:09:57] My wallet belongs to TV.

[00:10:01] Jeff Haas: [00:10:01] Is it like a drug? I mean, do you feel withdrawal when you’re not on stage

[00:10:06] Armin Shimerman: [00:10:06] when I’m in a play between a clock and 10 15 when the play usually ends? Yes, there is a withdrawal. When do I go back on, when is my when’s my next scene? It takes a lot of energy to do that. So sometimes as I get older it’s a relief not to have to do a show that night, but invariably, if I’m in a show and I have to do a show that night, I’m very energized.

[00:10:28] I’m very excited. The day is spent preparing for that eight o’clock curtain.

[00:10:32] Jeff Haas: [00:10:32] That’s that’s amazing. And, and I also read that you, you have performed in one third of Shakespeare’s Canon of. Please. I

[00:10:40] Armin Shimerman: [00:10:40] have I’ve been very lucky, as I said before. I started out in a Shakespeare festival. I’ve worked many Shakespeare festivals since then.

[00:10:47]I’ve worked at every level of the theater that one can imagine in the United States, whether it’s local theater or Broadway. And I’ve been lucky enough to do as, as, as you said about a third of the Canon, some of the plays I’ve done more than once hammered, I’ve done more than once Richard, the third I’ve done more than once.

[00:11:03] Number of other plays I’ve done more than once. And there’s a great benefit to doing not only a play more than once, but doing a part more than once. Because when you start at the second time, you have the background of, of what you remember from the first time, so that you’re not starting from scratch.

[00:11:21] And invariably for me, I never ever tried to repeat what I did the first time. For instance, I’ve played the fool in King Lear twice, and the two performances are radically different. I was, I was gung ho about not recreating that first performance in the second production

[00:11:38] Jeff Haas: [00:11:38] now. Once again, as I said before, I teach English and one plays that my seniors are reading or is Hamlet.

[00:11:44]And obviously when the question of the play is whether or not Hamlet is potentially crazy or is the ghost rail is everything he’s seeing legit. When you’re playing the part, when you’re playing like Hamlet, do you play him more straight or do you play with that possibility that he may actually be.

[00:12:01] Kind of losing it.

[00:12:02] Armin Shimerman: [00:12:02] Well, that’s, that’s dependent upon the actor who playing the part. People have been playing it all many different ways for over 400 years. Some I’m sure a plated that he’s slightly gone insane. Some very much playing it as a theatrical insanity. It’s really up to the actor and the director and the production.

[00:12:20]For me, any one of those possibilities as a possibility you can play it as long as the play is not a visceral hated by, by a bad choice. You can play it any way. You’d like, that’s the, that’s the great joy of seeing a production like Hamlet done by dozens of different actors, because each actor will bring their own take on it.

[00:12:45] And you learn something from every one of those choices. Every one of those takes from those different actors.

[00:12:51] Jeff Haas: [00:12:51] What is it about Shakespeare that fascinates you personally

[00:12:54] Armin Shimerman: [00:12:54] so much language it’s easy language.

[00:12:57] Jeff Haas: [00:12:57] It’s like the beauty of it or the complexity of it? Both.

[00:13:00] Armin Shimerman: [00:13:00] Both. Both. Both for sure. First is the beauty when I, when I understand it.

[00:13:05]But there are many, many lines in Shakespeare that are difficult, not impossible but difficult. And so the complexity puts my analytical mind to work and I work on figuring out what that line means and not only what it means to me. But also historically what it meant, because what historically it may have meant and what it means now may be two different things, but it is essential.

[00:13:32] As I tell my students, it is essential that you, the actor must know what the historical meaning of that line is. And then if it’s possible, you can warp it a little so that it has more of a modern meaning.

[00:13:44]Jeff Haas: [00:13:44] Do you find that over the years, how you interpret a line has

[00:13:47] Armin Shimerman: [00:13:47] changed? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

[00:13:50] I’ll give you an example. Was a very famous line from Romeo and Juliet that many people have heard what light through yonder window breaks. It is the East and Juliet is the sun now because of my studies and rhetoric, I, I didn’t quite understand the meaning of that line when I first read it. When I first saw it on stage.

[00:14:09]It rhetoric teaches many things. They’re called figures. And one of the figures is the figure of antithesis and antithesis is opposites like to be, or not to be that’s an opposite. And perhaps the most famous antithesis in Shakespeare, but in this line, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the East and Juliet is the sun.

[00:14:31] The antithesis that’s being explored is the dim candle light. That’s coming from Juliet’s window versus the blazing light of the, of the Noonday sun. And so an actor who doesn’t know the line. Which say it, something like this, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the Eastern Juliet is the sun.

[00:14:52]Because they’re, they’re thinking that the line is about how, how wonderful it will be to see Juliet, but that’s not really the historical meaning of the line. Let me give it to you. What I think is the more historical version, which is what light through yonder window breaks. It is the East and Juliet is the sun, so that you see that you hear the antithesis between how much candle, how much wattage there is in the candle, how much more wattage there is in the sun.

[00:15:20] That is

[00:15:21] Jeff Haas: [00:15:21] awesome. That is amazing. I mean, you must have spent years just researching.

[00:15:28] Armin Shimerman: [00:15:28] Yeah. I’ve been doing it since college, during college. I never stopped. Yeah. I’ve been researching and researching for ever forever. One more other thing in that production of one of the productions at the globe, I was playing a character called cost starred in Love’s Labour’s lost in my script.

[00:15:50] I had a line that, well the, the character of cost art comes on stage and he’s got, he’s just hurt his shin. And two of the characters who are already on stage list the number of ointments or savvy to help him to cure his shin. And my line in the script was. No remedy in the mall. That’s small M a L L.

[00:16:13]And that didn’t make sense to me. But I was a young actor and thought, okay, a lot of this stuff doesn’t make sense to me. So you know, I’ll just have to live with it. But, but again, my analytical mind said, no, try to find out what this means. And I searched and I searched and there were lots of different authors explaining what mom meant and how it fit in the line.

[00:16:34] And I, it didn’t seem to fit rather well, but I thought they’re more, they’re smarter than I am. And therefore I have to accept it. I eventually came upon a reference that opened the door to a lot of Shakespeare and study for me. And, and that, that particular source said that it’s a spelling mistake.

[00:16:57] It’s not no remedy in the mall, but rather no remedy in them. Oh,

[00:17:07] Jeff Haas: [00:17:07] Oh, okay. That’s pretty cool.

[00:17:10] Armin Shimerman: [00:17:10] And that’s when I began to really, really study Shakespeare because then I began to see, wait a second, wait a second. So you’re telling me that the first folio is not perfect because all, all my college life I had been told the first folio was perfect and it’s not, there are lots of mistakes.

[00:17:27] And the other thing that I came to learn. While I, while I was studying in college and after is that spelling, as we understand it was, was not the modern day spelling. Not that words weren’t spelled the way we spell them today. That’s a different kettle of fish altogether, but rather the idea of spelling a word correctly did not come into being until about a hundred years after Shakespeare passed away until Samuel Johnson’s dictionary.

[00:17:59] So that words could be spelled any way that the playwright or the editor wanted to spell them. And because of that sometimes it’s confusing because perhaps it’s this word, perhaps it’s another prep. The greatest example of that is in from Hamlet. Oh, that there’s two, two solid flesh would melt, thorough and resolve itself into a D most of them Americans will say, Oh, that this too, too solid flesh.

[00:18:26]Most of the British actors will say solid. Because in the first folio, the word that’s, there could be solid, could be solid. It depends on how you, how you think the word, which word you think is right. But the spelling for both of them would be the same. You wouldn’t have a definitive spin on spelling.

[00:18:44] That is

[00:18:44] Jeff Haas: [00:18:44] awesome. It really is an amazing complex puzzle that you can apparently indefinitely unwind over and over again with potentially different results.

[00:18:54] Armin Shimerman: [00:18:54] Right. That’s exactly right. And that is that as you asked me, that’s a very long answer for your very nice question. What intrigues me? Both the language and the analytics of it.

[00:19:05] Jeff Haas: [00:19:05] Yeah. I always tell, I always tell my students that English in a very real way is to search for truth. It’s the truth through literature. It allows people to come together and debate ideas through a common source. So I call it English, a search for truth, and I think

[00:19:23] Armin Shimerman: [00:19:23] that’s absolutely true. And you have very lucky students that you’re teaching

[00:19:27] Jeff Haas: [00:19:27] them.

[00:19:27] Oh, thank you so much. And I always think that Shakespeare indoors, because he comes closest to that human truth than any other author. What do you agree?

[00:19:36] Armin Shimerman: [00:19:36] He does. We have to, you know, take Shakespeare with a grain of salt. He was very good about being familiar with other great authors and rewording what they had to say.

[00:19:47] But a lot of his knowledge, if you search long enough, you begin to find that it was somewhere before it wasn’t Shakespeare, that, that he found it, whether it was whether he read it or whether someone told him that it was a very literary age of Elizabethan, England. So. One sees that he got a lot of his understanding of human nature of the human psychology from other authors, but he worded it better than anybody else did,

[00:20:14] Jeff Haas: [00:20:14] you know?

[00:20:14]W we’ll get more into your, your book and just a bit, but I will point out is that why there’s a moment in your novel where Shakespeare is reprimanded by John D because he ripped off a few lines of a sonnet for competence, Dan, you’re making reference to his propensity for ripping off other people.

[00:20:36] Armin Shimerman: [00:20:36] Yes, that’s right. And no one cared. There was no such thing as plagiarism back then. In fact, when someone went to the theater, if they were in the good seats and had the ability to sit down, they often brought what they call their tables with them, which we would call a pamphlet, a tablet, a tablet, and they would sit there and it and it wasn’t necessarily just Shakespeare’s plays.

[00:21:00] It was any play. And if one of the characters said a really intriguing line, they would write it down. After all the plays were done in the afternoon, there was plenty of sunlight and and they would write it down. And, and if they would try to incorporate those lines, they’d heard in the theater or perhaps in other people’s conversations and put it in their own conversation to make them look more witty, to look, make them look more, more wise.

[00:21:26] Jeff Haas: [00:21:26] I have absolutely never heard of that before that, that, that is it’s, it’s funny to think that Shakespeare not only would be the greatest writer, but the greatest plagiarist

[00:21:34] Armin Shimerman: [00:21:34] of all time. And yes, perhaps he is Hamlet in South refers to this is I’ll set it down in my tables and that’s exactly what he’s talking about.

[00:21:42] I’ll put it into my conversation.

[00:21:45] Jeff Haas: [00:21:45] That is great. And so when you’re not in theater, you’re also right now, are you still an adjunct professor at the university of

[00:21:51] Armin Shimerman: [00:21:51] California? No, actually because of, because of I have not been there for two years. I wasn’t fired and I didn’t quit. My, my theater responsibilities got in the way and, and the college was very good about saying, go off, do the theater and come back when that’s all taken care of.

[00:22:08] But while I was gone, the people that hired me got moved out. I was never sent a letter that you’re fired. So I really don’t know what my position is at USC right now. And because my schedule has been rather busy, I haven’t had the time really to say, Oh, I’d like to go back to USC. I haven’t investigated that, but I would assume.

[00:22:29] That should I want to go back? It shouldn’t be too hard for me to go back and teach Shakespeare again. Yeah. I can’t

[00:22:35] Jeff Haas: [00:22:35] imagine someone saying no to Armand Zimmerman. When you went up to perform Shakespeare, they’re going to let you be on teach it. So as, as an English teacher who does teach Shakespeare and you as a a former or maybe current adjunct professor at university of California, what tips can you offer me to, how to make Shakespeare feel more relevant and more alive to my students?

[00:22:55]Armin Shimerman: [00:22:55] Well, the first thing I would say is your students and you must go to the dictionary and know what every word means that that is essential. Usually what happens is, is because you want a line to mean something and it doesn’t necessarily mean what you want it to mean. Y you, you get, get lost in the thicket because the, what follows doesn’t make sense.

[00:23:21]And, and what I have done all of my life as a Shakespeare teacher is to insist that everybody knows what they’re talking about. And when, when that happens, Shakespeare becomes a lot clearer. The other thing it’s hard work for you. I would sit down one summer when you’ve got some time and study the principles of rhetoric.

[00:23:43]And because rhetoric is essential to, to my understanding of Shakespeare. If you do not understand the principles of rhetoric, you do not understand why Shakespeare writes the way he does. And until you, you get that, cause it’s not the meanings of words so much. It’s how the words are put together.

[00:24:02] That’s what rhetoric does. And once you understand why he put these words together in the, in the pattern that he did, all of a sudden the plays and the language will be enormously clear. All my life people have been kind enough to say Arman, when you do Shakespeare, it makes sense to me. How do you do that?

[00:24:23] And it’s because I understand the principles of rhetoric. So if, if they’re young students, I think rhetoric might be a little over their heads. Not that it’s difficult, it’s just a different language altogether, but you, the teacher I would investigate the principles of rhetoric. I definitely,

[00:24:39]Jeff Haas: [00:24:39] Is there any sources that you recommend

[00:24:41] Armin Shimerman: [00:24:41] the most?

[00:24:42] Yeah, there’s a, there’s a, there’s a book and I don’t remember the exact title of the book, but I do remember the author. Her name is sister Merriam, Miriam Joseph. So she’s a nun sister, Miriam, Joseph, and I, I believe it’s something like the techniques of. Language and Shakespeare, something like that. It is a very dry book, but, but it has everything you need to know in order to understand Shakespeare’s rhetoric.

[00:25:12] Now it

[00:25:12] seems

[00:25:13] Jeff Haas: [00:25:13] like a debate in the world of education, at least in the high school realm about teaching Shakespeare and or teaching a modern version of the pros.

[00:25:21] Armin Shimerman: [00:25:21] Yeah. Oh no, no. Don’t teach a modern version of prose. What’s the point there? You asked me why I like Shakespeare. I like Shakespeare because of the language because of how he puts words together.

[00:25:33] So getting rid of that, just to make it easier for the students is anathema. It’s like saying you want to learn French, just learn the words that are the cognates, the words that are the same in English as they are in French. No, of course that would be ridiculous. That, that argument of learning. Modern Shakespeare or modern language is just because people just don’t want to put in the work.

[00:25:56] Jeff Haas: [00:25:56] Yeah. I agree with you a hundred percent. And I’m someone who does believe very strongly in the language. Not only that though, but there are dividends that are paid by making students learn the complicated language. It’s almost like learning advanced math. It expands how your process, your comprehension works.

[00:26:13] Armin Shimerman: [00:26:13] Right? And if you learn the principles of rhetoric, if they are going to go into writing or anything, literary those principles will be enormously helpful for whatever they do. Surprisingly enough, when people ask me, well, you’re the techniques and Shakespeare, do they apply to other things as well? And I would say absolutely.

[00:26:31] And one of the, one of the things that it applies to in this, I’m usually talking to actors is to commercials. The same technique that’s in Shakespeare is in the way they write commercials. Can you, can you

[00:26:43] Jeff Haas: [00:26:43] go into

[00:26:44] Armin Shimerman: [00:26:44] sure. I was talking to you before about antithesis. Well, antithesis is, is there in, in commercials as well.

[00:26:51] Don’t buy that product, buy this product. And, and once you realize that in commercials, you only allowed so much, so many words in a short period of time, you’ve only got 30 seconds to do the spot. So they cram as much as they can in each word that they choose understanding why. Each of those words is important, which is what Shakespeare does for you will be the same thing for shooting a commercial.

[00:27:15] Jeff Haas: [00:27:15] I think that’s, that’s brilliant. I never even thought about that. First, first commercial goes. Th the thing I love about Shakespeare, I think why it’s important. I think it opens your mind up to, I think our reality of good writing, and I think the reality of good writing is good writing is inherently musical.

[00:27:31] It sounds as good to your ear and how it comes out of your mouth as the words meaning does as well. Would you agree on that?

[00:27:38] Armin Shimerman: [00:27:38] I totally agree. And as a writer oftentimes my choice of words is really the litmus test is whether it sounds right in my ear. Being an actor I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m listening to the sound the way an actor does.

[00:27:52]And as a writer, I’m trying to marry those two techniques together.

[00:27:56] Jeff Haas: [00:27:56] And I would say, like I said, I would also say it’s very tactile. I mean, literally how it comes out of your mouth is it feels good saying great writing, great

[00:28:04] Armin Shimerman: [00:28:04] sentences, right? Yes, absolutely. And Shakespeare was very good at that.

[00:28:08]He was very good about making words, choosing words, that sound that have sounds in them that replicate what the word is saying. For instance let’s take the opening speech of Richard a third. Let’s see No, I’m trying to remember it for a second here. Hold on. Now is the winter. Yeah. Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by the son of York here, all the S’s and I over accentuated them for you.

[00:28:36] But the S’s are subconsciously are telling you this is a villain because

[00:28:43] Jeff Haas: [00:28:43] the sound came to like a hiss of a snake. Yeah,

[00:28:47] Armin Shimerman: [00:28:47] exactly.

[00:28:48] Jeff Haas: [00:28:48] It was, again, that it’s amazing when you start peeling away, the layers of Shakespeare, just how deep the layers are.

[00:28:55] Armin Shimerman: [00:28:55] Right. And any good writer. Let’s not just focus on Shakespeare, any good writer or a writer that’s stood the test of time, probably uses all those techniques that the, the technique of, of rhetoric is not strictly.

[00:29:10] And Elizabeth and thing rhetoric was taught up until taught very strongly up until the beginning of the 20th century. And then some, for some reason in the American school system that was sort of dropped it still taught. You can still get rhetorical classes perhaps in college, or maybe even in Latin classes were, were, rhetoric is very important, but, but but most good writers have some background, not only in, in other good writers, but also in the techniques of rhetoric.

[00:29:42] Jeff Haas: [00:29:42] I, I will say as far as we were talking about at the education. I feel like the material has been dumbed down to the students instead of raising the students in the material.

[00:29:51] Armin Shimerman: [00:29:51] Exactly. Exactly. And, and what’s surprising is when, at least in my experience, when I show them the complexity of the language and how to solve it, because you can’t just show them the complexity that turns people off, then they think they’re too dumb.

[00:30:08] I can’t, I can’t, man, I can’t do this, but if you give them the techniques just solve those problems. All of a sudden you’ve got a fan for life. Not, not of me, but a fan for Shakespeare. Yes.

[00:30:19] Jeff Haas: [00:30:19] And w when, when I, when I read your book Ilaria betrayal of angels. Okay. In reading your, your words and your language, I felt there was Shakespeare in element two, where you were playing with the rhythm and the sound and the, and the, the feel of the words as well.

[00:30:38] Armin Shimerman: [00:30:38] Am I correct? I’m glad you felt that way. I mean, that was my intent. I, I not only deal with the history of the times, but I also want to deal with the sound. I, it’s not, you know, you’ve read the book, you know, that it, that it’s not that hard of language to understand. There is a taste of the Elizabethan language to it, but it, but the rapport principles are all through the book and that’s perhaps what makes it sound like Elizabethan language because of the rhetoric

[00:31:08] Jeff Haas: [00:31:08] Oh, sorry to interrupt, continue.

[00:31:09] Armin Shimerman: [00:31:09] Sure. But, but I, I, I thought of my book as a time machine that I could try to get people back to that period in the best way that, that I knew how to do it.

[00:31:21] Jeff Haas: [00:31:21] And I will totally agree that it, I really did feel transported. And I will say, as we go into more into the text, the beginning of your book, when you have the young Shakespeare talking to Burbidge, it felt like you were writing.

[00:31:35] Like I said, I really did feel Shakespearian, not only because of the language, but you definitely put in also some of the language and dark humor and of that you find in Shakespeare, especially when you talk about like what the rosary in for like the Groundlings things of that nature. I felt it in that first chapter, I mean the first part of that book totally has that.

[00:31:53] Am I correct with that?

[00:31:54] Armin Shimerman: [00:31:54] Yes. And, and ironically, that was one of the later chapters that I wrote. My editor recommended something and that’s what I came up with. I mean, she didn’t, she didn’t suggest what was to happen. She just said we should start with a, with a chapter from Shakespeare. That’s that, you know, Shakespeare and Shakespeare and character.

[00:32:17] And, and I wrote that chapter actually pretty quickly that once I had the aha moment of, ah, this is what I’ll write about it, it, it, it wrote itself pretty much.

[00:32:27] Jeff Haas: [00:32:27] Like I said, I think the book is just brilliant. And I, when the fun things about the book that you do write about the young William Shakespeare, the, the, like the Nesson Shakespeare before he became ho I mean, he’s not even his name isn’t even Shakespeare at this moment until later, without ruining too much.

[00:32:42]

[00:32:42]Armin Shimerman: [00:32:42] It’s not, I won’t ruin anything by explaining that as you’re hinting at, I, I don’t spell Shakespeare, the word Shakespeare, the way it’s usually spelled. And the reason I don’t do that is in the six or so examples of Shakespeare writing his own name, we have about six of those in reality he oftentimes spelled differently, again, spelling was not the rigor.

[00:33:06] You could spell a word any way you wanted. So this is one of the many ways that he spelled his name. And it’s sort of my reference to what I said before that spelling was not written in stone. Well, a spelling bee anyway was not written in stone. So when my

[00:33:22] Jeff Haas: [00:33:22] students, our students complained that spelling doesn’t matter, there are technically correct, but for the most of our time, it does it.

[00:33:28] Didn’t.

[00:33:28]Armin Shimerman: [00:33:28] Yes, that’s exactly right.

[00:33:30] Jeff Haas: [00:33:30] That’s pretty fun. My, my, my students will get a kick out of that. So when you were planning and plotting your mind, the writing of Alaria, which hopefully I’m pronouncing it, right, again, at least I’m really bad with pronouncing things. Was the idea first to explore the young Shakespeare, or was it the continued story of John D?

[00:33:46] Where, where did you start with your formatting? The idea and with which character did you first be thinking of? Following

[00:33:53] Armin Shimerman: [00:33:53] question. Thank you for that. Yeah. I have written other books previous to, to the Elyria trilogy and all of them, pretty much all of them have to do with John D who is a fascinating character for me.

[00:34:06] So this book, the Elyria trilogy, the first book being a betrayal of Angeles started out with the idea of writing a book about John Dee. In fact, while I was writing the other books, though, I was writing about John D, Dr. John D. I wa I was really, my publishers really wanted me to write more a book about my star Trek, character quark.

[00:34:27] And so there’s really more quark in those novels than, than it is John D. And I, I felt that I was beholden to John D and I swore that one day I would write a book that was closer to his character. So to answer your question, the original idea was to write a book about John Dee, however Being fascinated with the Shakespeare.

[00:34:49] I, I wanted to write a book about Shakespeare as well, and, and certainly one could argue, even to me, that Shakespeare takes over the, the, the, the trilogy that, that his character becomes, perhaps the more dominant of the two, even though I meant originally for John D to be the dominant care.

[00:35:11] Jeff Haas: [00:35:11] I don’t, I I’m not so far.

[00:35:13] Let’s, I’ve only read the first book. I don’t know if I would agree that Shakespeare dominates it. John D is a very strong character and, Oh, go ahead.

[00:35:21] Armin Shimerman: [00:35:21] Yeah, he is. But but I’m also familiar with the two books that follow, and as I wrote just Shakespeare more and more now we don’t lose D D still, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a buddy picture, but but I think Shakespeare becomes the more forceful element in the place.

[00:35:42] Well,

[00:35:42] Jeff Haas: [00:35:42] one thing I found interesting was that in reading the story and getting a sense, or of the characters that are in the, in the novel, John D feels at times quite towering, but historically it was only five feet. Is that correct? Is that

[00:35:56] Armin Shimerman: [00:35:56] right? No. You know, I don’t know, but that surprises me. Thank you for telling me that I always thought of him as a, as a taller person.

[00:36:05]I’m giving something away here. For years, I worked with a wonderful actor on star Trek. His name was  and for me Renee stood about six one six, two, something like that. So in my mind, I because I don’t, I know a lot about John D but not the personal things. And so I just migrated what I knew about Renee into that character.

[00:36:27] But if John D was only five foot I’ve certainly missed that element altogether because I think of him as a much taller,

[00:36:33] Jeff Haas: [00:36:33] well, don’t call me completely, but I, I was because it’s just from a quick search. I I’m pretty sure I read last year. No, no, no. Can you hear me? Hello? Hi. Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

[00:36:43]I don’t know. My audio is working. Oh, you, my enter monitoring connect is unstable. Can you hear me now? I can now. Yeah, my internet connection apparently unstable. So I may flip in and out slightly. But my, my apologies technology sucks, but it’s something I was when I was going through on John D I F I found something about that information, but where that source is, I didn’t check.

[00:37:02] So don’t totally quote me on that. But one thing going back a little bit to Shakespeare. Shit, you write Shakespeare. And he’s about if my memory serves about six, 14, 16, sorry, 16. We don’t have a lot of information of Shakespeare at that time period. So w w did you surmise what he was like, or did you find sources that verified what he was like

[00:37:24] Armin Shimerman: [00:37:24] sources really of what Shakespeare was like between the time that he finished schooling.

[00:37:30] We’re not even sure that he finished schooling, but when he finished schooling and Stratford and became the playwright that we all know, it’s, it’s a, it’s an unknown period that many authors have explored. There’s a wonderful novel out now called Hamlet. That explores that time period as well. So there is no, there’s no reference for that.

[00:37:51] No one knows what happened in those years. And my novel, the among the many things that it tries to do is try to explain what he was doing in those years, and to explain, or to give a thesis any way about how he became the writer that he became. And, and,

[00:38:10] Jeff Haas: [00:38:10] and I think that’s a great fun, I mean, one of the fun things early in the novel and it may feel make every writer feel better about it, that you had this in your novel is that you make illusions of Shakespeare’s future.

[00:38:20] And one of them is that he writes a play Amnet. That fails, that fails horribly, that fails horribly. And he can’t, he’s trying to figure out why it was bad and he feels horrible about it as a writer. I’m thinking myself. Yeah. I think I’ve been there before. I’m glad Shakespeare had the same issue, even if it’s only in fiction

[00:38:38] Armin Shimerman: [00:38:38] and that’s partially yes, correct.

[00:38:40] Partially let me explain it. Okay. The play am lists existed in Elizabeth and times, or perhaps before Elizabethan times, we don’t know who wrote it. There is no copy of the play anywhere. All we have are the bad reviews. Those still exist. No one knows who wrote and with but there’s conjectures about who that person might’ve been.

[00:39:06]Harold bloom, one of the great Shakespearian critics and scholars suggests in his book that perhaps a very young Shakespeare wrote Amblin. And so that was the inspiration. So whether Harold bloom and I are correct or not is up for. Future historians and researchers to find out. But I went with the idea that was suggested in the Harold bloom book.

[00:39:29] So w

[00:39:30] Jeff Haas: [00:39:30] would it be fair if I would have say, or guess that you’re on the side, that all the plays were written by Shakespeare, Shakespeare was not written by multiple different art authors.

[00:39:41] Armin Shimerman: [00:39:41] I am. To some extent I have a different take than the normal debate. Okay. Play the debate is whether Shakespeare wrote it or, or Oxford road it, or, or queen Elizabeth wrote ed or Marlo wrote it.

[00:39:53]None of that, that makes any sense to me whatsoever. However, one of the things I totally believe, and I believe there’s a lot of research that backs me up on this. Is that a lot of the plays? Well, not a lot. The early plays and the late plays were probably co-written. Okay. And in fact, there’s an interesting computer study that perhaps the first play that has Shakespeare’s name on it is Henry the sixth part two.

[00:40:22] Believe it or not. Part two came before Bart one. And, and the computer studies, linguistic studies seem to indicate that that play enter. The six part two is probably completely written by Marlo. Okay. But, but after that, I would say in the first couple plays. He, he co-wrote with other people. I would say the body of the work is probably Shakespeare’s, but there are probably scenes that were written by other people.

[00:40:52] And that same scenario probably happened at the end of his career as well, for two different reasons. Here’s the, here’s the reasons which Shakespeare was starting out as my first chapter in the book seems to hint at is that he’s not trusted by the producer and, and, and therefore the producers not going to allow him to write a full play by himself.

[00:41:15] He’s going to have to get some help from people who have a little bit more experience, and that probably did happen. And in the latter part of Shakespeare’s career, when he’d made a name for himself and made quite a nice fortune edit as well he was just probably too tired to write a complete play and would just go out and hire people to help him with scenes in the play.

[00:41:36] So I think Shakespeare wrote all the plays that are attributed to him except perhaps Henry the sixth part too. But I do believe he may have had a lot of help in a lot of the plays. Okay. Well,

[00:41:48] Jeff Haas: [00:41:48] interesting that you mentioned that Marlin might have assisted cause once it often is portrayed that Marlo was considered a chief rival of Shakespeare and also well-known in his own right.

[00:41:59] Armin Shimerman: [00:41:59] Oh, my God Marlo was the God of Elizabethan theater, Shakespeare aspire to be another model. So

[00:42:06] Jeff Haas: [00:42:06] do you think Marlo would allow his name or his work to be assumed by somebody else?

[00:42:11]Armin Shimerman: [00:42:11] They often did if you paid them and they didn’t have ownership problems when Shakespeare wrote his plays and the theater put them on that was it.

[00:42:21] He gave it to the theater. He didn’t own it anymore. You know, the idea of royalties would never have occurred to him. So if someone says to Marlow or to Shakespeare, to green or to any of the dozens of wonderful Elizabeth and playwrights that were around, I need you to write a scene or two for me. And we’ll, we’ll put it under so-and-so’s name.

[00:42:42] They said how much you’re paying me and if the price was right, they said fine. Okay, great.

[00:42:47] Jeff Haas: [00:42:47] That’s incredible. It’s such a different psychology than nowadays. I mean, nowadays, like I said, most writers, I love those ghost writers, but most writers, the ego would come before the work. It would seem like

[00:42:58] Armin Shimerman: [00:42:58] Marlo had a huge ego.

[00:42:59] There’s no doubt about that. He died probably because of it, but but they were, you know, they weren’t. They weren’t movie writers. They weren’t making a ton of money as writers in theater and theater at that time was considered pornography. So they got paid something, but not a lot of money to right place.

[00:43:18] So the more that they got paid, the more that they could pay their bills. Most of the Elizabethan writers except for Shakespeare and Marlowe died pretty poor.

[00:43:28] Jeff Haas: [00:43:28] Oh, wow. I mean, it really, I said, one of the things I loved about your book is once again, it’s just how you show a young Shakespeare grow into Shakespeare.

[00:43:37] And don’t think of one thing I did wonder cause you didn’t bring it up. Is that as you had said, you’ve written before you wrote a trilogy of books for the merchant print series. Right. And I will say right now for my listeners that after finishing Alaria or getting close to finish it about a hundred pages before it, I went out and I bought the Prince trilogy merchant, Prince trilogy.

[00:43:52] I’m waiting for it from Amazon. It, once you finished your letter, you gotta keep going.

[00:43:57] Armin Shimerman: [00:43:57] We’ll have a second book coming out in November. So we can go there. They’re not the same that yes, John D occupies all of the books, but, but th as I said earlier, it’s not the same, John D

[00:44:08] Jeff Haas: [00:44:08] well, actually, that’s going to be one of my questions about not, that was a they, they were somehow connected, but even to not, can it, like I said, just the quality of Ilaria made me immediately want to check your other, your other works and the merchant print series, I’m anxiously waiting Amazon to finally get it here.

[00:44:23] It’s been longer than it’s been three weeks, but whatever And the other thing I found interesting about your book was Shakespeare’s wonderful character. John D is a wonderful character. I, and I think one of my favorite thing about him as someone who was also a English teacher, I love his love of books.

[00:44:40] I love that he’s a bibliophile and that he treats libraries like Holy sites, you know what I’m saying? They’re almost like sanctuary, you know? And I thought that was brilliant. Was that one of the things that you liked about John D is that the love of books, the love of, you know, just of knowledge and his pursuit of

[00:44:56] Armin Shimerman: [00:44:56] yes.

[00:44:57] That’s what John D was famous for. He may have been the original creator of the national library in, in England. He had the largest library in England at the time. And this conjunction of Shakespeare and D together is not infeasible. In fact, during the many years of, of research, I once found a book that suggested that indeed they had indeed that Shakespeare had indeed read a book out of his library.

[00:45:23] So but John D was a bibliophile. He adored books. He S he, he went, broke, buying books, kept asking the queen and the government to give him a stipend so that he could create a national library, but both Elizabeth and her predecessor queen Mary didn’t fork over any money. So he did it on his own and, and he and his family suffered because he was always broke buying books, but he loved books.

[00:45:48] He loved knowledge and, and, and most of the the literati of, of Europe would, would pay visits to D because he was so incredibly literary and famous and a scholar of great repute.

[00:46:03] Jeff Haas: [00:46:03] Well, I know how he feels. I’m sure my wife would be angry, is angry with my over expenditure of books as well. How much money goes to them?

[00:46:10]Are you, are you a bibliophile as well?

[00:46:12] Armin Shimerman: [00:46:12] Yes, but mostly I study Elizabeth and things. The house is full of books, but they’re, they tend to be from one period. My wife has a much more eclectic reader and, and thanks to her. We have lots of books from many, many different periods, but I tend to be a Luddite and and restrict my readings to Elizabeth and things, or or before that actually,

[00:46:33]Jeff Haas: [00:46:33] Just, I know it’s slightly off center, but when you knew, when you said Elizabeth queen Elizabeth and queen Mary refused to give him the money for the library, was it.

[00:46:40] Based on a lack of interest or do you think it was a fear of knowledge and what it could cause if people work to gain that? Right.

[00:46:47] Armin Shimerman: [00:46:47] I don’t think it was a fear of knowledge. Elizabeth herself was, was a bibliophile. Elizabeth loved learning, spoke many languages and, and the reports of her that she could astound accordions were how much she knew about many things.

[00:47:00] So I don’t think that applied to Elizabeth.

[00:47:03] Jeff Haas: [00:47:03] I mean, I’ll take care of her people being knowledgeable. That’s what I mean, the people gaining. Yeah.

[00:47:07]Armin Shimerman: [00:47:07] No, I don’t think that either. I think it was a matter right out of today’s newspaper. It’s a matter of cost. Elizabeth in England was was always strapped for money, always strapped for money.

[00:47:19] So they had to be careful where they put the money that they did have. And this may not have been high. The, the other quarter years may not have thought that this was a good thing to spend money on. Well,

[00:47:31] Jeff Haas: [00:47:31] like I said, unfortunately I have a different view. Like I said, I have, I love books. I, it, by finding a used bookstore, pushing an old used bookstore is when the best moments you can do, you know something about the old pages and the sound of the paper, crinkling that’s, those are ones of my favorite books.

[00:47:44] I can find

[00:47:45] Armin Shimerman: [00:47:45] mine as well and mine as well. So

[00:47:49] Jeff Haas: [00:47:49] if you don’t mind, I’m going to talk a little bit about a couple of the quotes that you have in your texts. If you don’t mind, if you have to share your time. All right, great. Oh, there’s one quote from the text. That was very intriguing. That’s spoken by di or at least he’s thinking about it.

[00:47:59] He says the sad player and I suffered the same tragedy. Once youthful ambition ripped away by a parent’s failure to do right by you. It sounds like these longing for knowledge and status is a byproduct of rebellion against parents that were like stifling. Is that kind of where you were headed with that?

[00:48:16] Armin Shimerman: [00:48:16] Yes, exactly. D’s father wasn’t particularly, he was proud of his son, but, but D always was upset that his father hadn’t done more from him. And as, as you know, from the novel, I equate that to Shakespeare as well, who always felt his father could have done more for him. And, and we, most historians believe that John Shakespeare Shakespeare’s father wasn’t necessarily cheap, but he, he wasn’t eager to have his son go into the theater, which any actor, director, writer probably would say the same thing about their parents as well.

[00:48:52] Jeff Haas: [00:48:52] For your purposes of your knowledge, do you think that was the primary bond that brought them together is no. I think, I think,

[00:48:59] Armin Shimerman: [00:48:59] I think the primary bond Shakespeare wanted to learn more in my novel anyway, Shakespeare wanted to learn more about how to write well and, and he. He thought that he could learn that by studying in, in library, but of course D has to leave.

[00:49:18] And so the second best thing was to study with the man who had collected all the books and have read all the books. And so I do believe it’s the two characters bond because of their, their desire to know more knowledge.

[00:49:32]Jeff Haas: [00:49:32] There’s also multiple points with John D where you suggest that he’s communing with angels.

[00:49:38] Yes. Is that something that D believes he’s actually doing, or is he something that’s trying to sell?

[00:49:44] Armin Shimerman: [00:49:44] Okay, well, w one of the reasons not more famous is that for centuries this is, this is what he did. He tried to communicate with angels. This is what the historical Dee did, and because history has looked down their nose at that desire.

[00:50:02]He has been up until recently up until about 75 years ago. You know, had been, was poo-pooed all the time, but this is what he did. He called, they call it screen. He felt that he could, he could talk to angels not through himself, but through sands for want of a better term, but it’s not a sounds.

[00:50:23] And and he did do that. And I thought, I can’t write a book about the real John Dee without, including some of that screen in it as well. So as the

[00:50:34] Jeff Haas: [00:50:34] author of this character, do you view it that in, in your mind when you’re writing that he literally is doing it or he believes he’s doing it?

[00:50:45] Armin Shimerman: [00:50:45] If you have a question about that, then I’ve written it well, cause that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

[00:50:50] I wanted the reader to decide that question for themselves.

[00:50:55] Jeff Haas: [00:50:55] Is this something that’s going to be seen throughout the next two novels as well?

[00:50:59] Armin Shimerman: [00:50:59] No, no. No, no, no, not at all. I wanted, I wanted to do it in the first book and then I wanted to leave it alone because it doesn’t interest me. And it’s, it’s not essential for the thrust of the story.

[00:51:14] Jeff Haas: [00:51:14] Well, I, I will say as the reader, I definitely got me thinking about it kind of kicking hard.

[00:51:20] Armin Shimerman: [00:51:20] Good. I mean he really, he really did think he could talk to angels and understand, let me, let me try to defend his historical person, Elizabeth and times prior and just after was a great age of discovery.

[00:51:38] People were finding out about the new world. People were finding out that the, that the earth went around the sun and not vice versa. People were finding out about mathematics. The religions, we’re trying to find out more about heaven. The Protestant reference revolution had started what some 50 years before.

[00:51:57]It was there’s a time when, when the unthinkable was becoming thinkable. And so everyone believed in the Bible and the Bible said angels existed. So there was no reason not to believe in angels didn’t exist. So the question was, how do you communicate with them for a man of John Dees learning a man who tried to create a deal of angelic speech?

[00:52:23]This was a possibility putting a man on the moon is a possibility unthinkable for the Elizabeth beacons, but possible for us to think that way or put, you know a Rover on Mars, not once, but twice through perseverance. So, so he, he believed he could do it and, and there was no reason why he couldn’t do it.

[00:52:45] And lots of people in important places thought he could do it too, but he was, but he was considered by people that didn’t believe in him to be a witch witchcraft was believed in as well. So It was a very tenuous and precarious situation that he put himself into. Well,

[00:53:02] Jeff Haas: [00:53:02] I think that’s one of the great things about how you wrote it.

[00:53:04] I mean, you do have this aura about him, of intelligence, but you do because there is the words around him of witchcraft and other. I think you also mentioned once or twice, I’ve seen some people accuse him of satanic things as well, that there’s this dangerous aspect of them. Right? Well,

[00:53:19] Armin Shimerman: [00:53:19] right. Three times during the course of his life, his library, which was, as I said before, extensive huge three times it was raided and destroyed.

[00:53:28] Not completely destroyed, but attacked because the, the mob thought that he was a devil worshiper. Do you

[00:53:36] Jeff Haas: [00:53:36] think there are books that are lost to history because of that, that he might’ve had the last copies.

[00:53:40] Armin Shimerman: [00:53:40] There are a lot of books lost a history and probably a number of them were lost because of the, because what D wanted to do was retrieved books that were being lost.

[00:53:54] Understand when religion changed in England, when it went from being a Catholic country to an Anglican country the, the rabid people who were Anglicans didn’t want any books that had any references to Catholicism and those books were burned. They were destroyed and, and D spent his life trying to find those books, retrieved them, save them from the fire.

[00:54:20]And we, we owe him for that. But I’m sure a lot of books were not retrieved or they were just too expensive for him to buy and they’re lost to us for all time.

[00:54:31] Jeff Haas: [00:54:31] Well, and, and I think one thing also that was great about Dee is that he much of a man of focus that he is, there’s a line in your, in your novel and love.

[00:54:39] And I like that, I think does a great job of describing John D without being blatant about it. And when the great lines that you have, you wrote this is a quote, John D however, pushes on he lives of human tragedy. It seems like this is a reference to how single mindedly focused he is. But part of me is also wondering, does it also mean, is it also a question of status that people may be inconsequential in this of people who are not helping him in his ultimate goal?

[00:55:09] Armin Shimerman: [00:55:09] Yeah. Yes, absolutely. I think he was an elitist. I know he was an elitist and if you didn’t live up to his measurement, he just cut you out. He didn’t want to spend any time with you. So yeah, if, if he didn’t want to waste his time with fools,

[00:55:27] Jeff Haas: [00:55:27] Because he also was one of the I believe the phrase was well or the exact one.

[00:55:31] It was he’s one of the chief tortures for queen Mary. I believe it was. Do you think he had a numbness to death that he, it didn’t,

[00:55:39] Armin Shimerman: [00:55:39] they all did understand that in London, which is pretty close to where he lived, he lived somewhere between now modern day London and Heathrow somewhere between we think of that, or it was London, but, but the city of London in that time was a much smaller area.

[00:55:53]So he lived basically between Heathrow and the city of London but death in London, the average age of a London near was 22. Holy crap. So death was everywhere. The plague happened to over and over and over again, people became inured to death. You know, it, it’s, it’s horrible. Again, looking at modern times, we just passed 500,000 deaths from COVID in the United States.

[00:56:24] That’s a horrible number, but we’re sort of getting used to those numbers. So yes, I, death was more in their face because it was happening to their neighbors to their relatives to people in their villages, in their towns. But yes, death was, was everywhere. Children died, people died. It really 22 was the average age in London.

[00:56:45] And I

[00:56:45] Jeff Haas: [00:56:45] think it’s interesting. You mentioned the 500,000 deaths on COVID and I was watching, I think it was CNN. And they’re talking about how people is tragic to lose the hero. Five people died, it’s a statistic to learn 500,000 people

[00:56:57] Armin Shimerman: [00:56:57] died. Exactly. It’s hard to get your mind around that, but but they saw death constantly, constantly.

[00:57:06]And unless they were able to get themselves way out of London, into the country where the plague wasn’t spreading to and play came over and over and over again, it wasn’t just a plague. People died of accidents. People died of the cold, the flu people, people died of, you know, a horse does something and, and, and you get bucked off and, and you’re, you hit your head.

[00:57:29]Things like that happen over and over and over again, death was everywhere and because death was everywhere, religion was enormously important because heaven was only one accident away. So in

[00:57:42] Jeff Haas: [00:57:42] many ways, when you were talking about John D talking about how he’s healers of human tragedy, that it really is just almost not to say lack of concern, but just like I said again, a numbness to the, just the idea of those

[00:57:56] Armin Shimerman: [00:57:56] around him.

[00:57:57] Yes. I think the books insulated him from the world and his studies insulated him from the world. He spent a lot of time in his library or, or dealing with numbers. He was a great mathematician by the way, as well. And I think it was a way of, of just psychologically not having to face the real world around him.

[00:58:23] Jeff Haas: [00:58:23] I mean, when we think about the character of Dean, you think about the fact that he’s married, that speaks very well of his wife, the kind of woman that someone like him could view as special in, you know, someone who is as I won’t say tunnel vision, but extremely as focused as he is.

[00:58:39] Armin Shimerman: [00:58:39] Yeah. Jane D was a very special woman.

[00:58:42] She took care of her husband. He didn’t bring in a lot of money. He did have a lot of famous guests, so she had to feed them. She had to take care of them. She had to figure out a way to, to to give them the proper entertainment that was needed for people of such high caliber. And she had to live with a man who props most of the day was locked away in his library.

[00:59:04] So I give great kudos to Jane D. And not only does she have to take care of her husband, but she had her children to take care of. And because of, of D’s quasi celebrity she had to deal with the people of the town as well.

[00:59:19] Jeff Haas: [00:59:19] Well, like I said I really did. I love what you wrote and I loved how was it going to, how you wrote D and I think one another, if you don’t mind, I have a few more questions if you have time.

[00:59:29] Sure. There’s a great, another great line that you wrote that, that I really liked that as someone who’s also a bibliophile, I can totally appreciate. The line is when you see he’s kind of, he’s not babbling, but he’s trying to protect himself towards end the now, and I can give away the certain circumstance, but he says, I work like this with his virtues.

[00:59:45] It’s wisdom, it’s words of comfort and wise counsel can just transform our bodily rectangles of dust to the excellence of an angel. And I feel like that quote, is you talking about your love of writing and reading?

[00:59:59] Armin Shimerman: [00:59:59] Well, I don’t remember writing that line. I’d say I recognize it, but I don’t remember writing it.

[01:00:03]I would say that I’m, you know, I’m all the characters just as a director of a play as all the characters. I am all the characters and bits and pieces of me are imbued in all the characters. So yes, yes. I suppose the answer’s yes. Like I said,

[01:00:18] Jeff Haas: [01:00:18] it’s like, it was a great line. And I said, like I said, I think.

[01:00:21] I felt myself in that line as well. I mean, talking about the importance of books and, and both as a reader and a teacher, I was like, yes, I represent John.  write about that. Th th like, there’s so many good lines is one, one more line. I do want to talk about it occurs with Shakespeare and he’s thinking what then the intrinsic quality of man and what the outer pretense, maybe a man’s quality is neither black, nor white, neither good, nor bad, but continuum.

[01:00:44] So you can bounce between the extremes. And I kind of felt, that’s your view of humanity that it’s not, we’re not good. People are bad people we’re kind of on a pendulum kind of find where the center would be.

[01:00:57] Armin Shimerman: [01:00:57] Precisely. I believe that’s a huge theme in all of Shakespeare’s plays. So you know, I’ve ripped that off from my study of Shakespeare that I, that he, that he always thought that it was a ying and yang situation.

[01:01:13]Yes, there were villains, but sometimes they would do non villainous things. And yes, there were heroes who would sometimes do villainous things. I believe that was part and parcel of how Shakespeare created his characters. And so it’s no surprise that I put those thoughts into his mind

[01:01:30] Jeff Haas: [01:01:30] and, and I really do like that cause, and I think it’s, it’s a mistake when writers.

[01:01:35] Feel when they’re running a character, especially a villain that they always have to write the villain doing villainous things. It’s like, no, no one does that. No one spends their entire day looking to bad things all the time.

[01:01:44] Armin Shimerman: [01:01:44] Right. I, I tell my actors enacting class, if you have the the fortune, the good fortune to play a villain, you must not think of him or her as a villain.

[01:01:56] You must find what it is that, that, that character wants, that aligns with what you want and, and go after it tooth and nail the difference between a villain and a non villain may be you go a little too far to get what you want, but that said three-dimensional characters can only be three dimensional.

[01:02:16]If they have the hanging end quality of good and bad or opposites meeting in some sort of temperance between the two.

[01:02:23] Jeff Haas: [01:02:23] And, and, and, and I love that. I, and I, and I do think as individually, we always try to avoid the sharper edges of our nature. And on any side, it’s dangerous to be over, to try to, you know, you don’t go balance, let’s say or bad side, because once again, you don’t want to fall into that pit, nor I think overly on the good side, you want to be open to that level of vulnerability.

[01:02:43] And maybe even niativity to be good, a hundred percent, you need to find that safe middle that’s the only place where you are protected.

[01:02:52] Armin Shimerman: [01:02:52] Exactly. Temperance is what I call it to find the temperature of the sweet spot between the two opposites, the sweet spot between the two antitheses and I,

[01:03:01] Jeff Haas: [01:03:01] and that’s Brian.

[01:03:02] And there’s one other character I do want to mention before I let you go that I never knew about until I read your novel. And I thought the character is cool. Especially as someone who’s Jewish, I thought he was fantastic. And we got the name wrong captain Paul latch, pallets. Sorry. Thank you so much.

[01:03:15] And I’m like I said, someone who’s Jewish. I never heard of Jewish pirates before, and I thought the inclusion, the inclusion of him was fantastic. I thought to myself, Holy crap. I always, I never knew I wanted one, a Jewish fires, but thank God he exists. He’s so cool. We did knowledge of him coming,

[01:03:31]Armin Shimerman: [01:03:31] In my research about Elizabeth and times.

[01:03:34]You probably, Oh my God. I’ve just forgotten. Murano’s you probably know about the Muranos and which the Murano’s were Jews who in order to exist in a Christian society convert to Catholicism or Christianity but secretly still perform all the rights of a Jew and they live secret lives as as Muranos.

[01:03:57]And there were people like Polish and and I just decided that since. My books have a lot to do with the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism and excuse me, and, and Catholicism that I wanted to add Judaism as well after all I’m Jewish as well. And didn’t want to exclude my religion from the book altogether.

[01:04:20] So and there are, there were some very famous antisemitic moments in Elizabeth and times by the way, Jews were not allowed in England during Elizabeth’s time, unless they had very special permission as my book spells out about wearing the yellow band around their arm. That’s historically correct.

[01:04:44] Jeff Haas: [01:04:44] That is that’s awesome. I didn’t actually know about, they weren’t allowed in Elizabeth in England at that time period. That’s actually news to me expelled

[01:04:49] Armin Shimerman: [01:04:49] from I, I know Spain because it’s an easy day to remember, but the Jews were expelled from Spain in, or maybe it was England. I can’t remember where the Spain ring in 1492.

[01:05:02] So but I do know that in Elizabeth and times you had to get a very special permission to come from another country if you were Jewish. That, I

[01:05:12] Jeff Haas: [01:05:12] mean, it seems like it really it’s just seemed like the history of Jews as being expelled from somewhere.

[01:05:17] Armin Shimerman: [01:05:17] Exactly, exactly. And, and, but there were, there were areas in Europe where that was, was being turned around.

[01:05:26] And I’m I’m, I’m probably misquoting here by saying Geneva was one of the places. Antwerp was perhaps another one where, where the, the city and the, and the area around the city said in order to promote commerce in order to promote study, in order to, to promote ecumenicalism are going to allow the Jews to live here and to be equal citizens with other people.

[01:05:53] Now that didn’t always last for very long, but some people tried to do that. So

[01:05:58] Jeff Haas: [01:05:58] do you think captain plot, well use, I mean, does he show up in later novels?

[01:06:02]Armin Shimerman: [01:06:02] He does. Yes.

[01:06:03]Jeff Haas: [01:06:03] And I will just say as a fan of yours and a fan, apparently of captain Palacci, if you ever feel like running a second series of trilogy, not using John D kind of collage is a great character.

[01:06:12] He must want

[01:06:13] Armin Shimerman: [01:06:13] more, more it, this morning was the first time I even considered that idea of writing another trilogy and I wondered what it would be about. So thank you for that. Maybe it’d be about Polish.

[01:06:25] Jeff Haas: [01:06:25] Okay. Please do. Like I said, I think there’s a lot of people, especially those of us who are Jewish, who felt good knowing there was a character like him historically.

[01:06:34]You know, especially during this time period, he sounds like a fascinating, higher turn. I think I would like to know more about him. Yeah.

[01:06:40] Armin Shimerman: [01:06:40] I mean there were Jews in high places throughout Europe, but it was thin ice for them. They had to walk very carefully. Many of them became Murano’s. But because if you were going to be promoted, you know, th these countries in Europe were very religious oriented.

[01:07:00] If you weren’t Catholic, you weren’t going to get very far in Spain. If you weren’t an Anglican, you weren’t going to get very far in England. If you weren’t Lutheran you, weren’t going to get very far in the sweetest countries. Yeah, religion is, is a huge part of these times. And that was perhaps one of the inspirations for writing my books was to try to get people to know that, to sort of educate a world that only thinks of Merry old England as a great place to be.

[01:07:27] And wouldn’t it be nice to have lived there? No, it, for most people, it would have been a hard appeal, horrible place to live. Now that you brought

[01:07:34] Jeff Haas: [01:07:34] that up, it sounds like it’s possible. I mean, I might be totally wrong on this was the hatred of the Jews in England, just a hatred of those who were in Protestant or was it pacifically back to the ideas of the Jews killed Jesus?

[01:07:47]Which it seems to be one that

[01:07:48] Armin Shimerman: [01:07:48] probably both churches taught that, that the Jews were not to be trusted. And so, and also most most English men never mad at you. Or, or, or more for that matter. So anything that’s not familiar usually is not trusted

[01:08:07] Jeff Haas: [01:08:07] that, that, that does seem to be th th the, the theory of things that we, anything that’s not us, we, we do the first, the first thought is hate.

[01:08:13] And well, first thought is fear then hate before and somewhere, a hundred years down the road come finds acceptance sometime when it’s a little too late for it to matter.

[01:08:22] Armin Shimerman: [01:08:22] Exactly. So I think you’re right, probably a distrust and then hate, but, but, but the, the, the teachings that, you know, the Bible says that the Jews killed Christ and you know, that was taught over and over again.

[01:08:38] And the stereotype of the Jew was, was always there. And if you’ve never met a Jew then there’s nothing to dissuade you from

[01:08:46] Jeff Haas: [01:08:46] that, you know, I, I totally agree that there was actually twice in my life without the person wasn’t trying to be insulting, but I have been asked in the, in them with total sincerity, is it true that Jews are born with tales?

[01:08:58] When was the girl I was dating before, you know, it got serious. And what was in a classroom when they were asked, is that true? And I was shocked by the question the first time I was, I found it almost humorous a second time, but I was like, Jesus Christ. This is, and they both learned it in church Sunday school,

[01:09:13] Armin Shimerman: [01:09:13] right?

[01:09:14] Yeah. Misinformation terrible. It’s terrible.

[01:09:18] Jeff Haas: [01:09:18] And I know early and according to the, the, your novel John D was with us on the side, the Catholics, while Mary was in power, it became silent. The Protestants, when the Elizabeth is in power, did he carry the same prejudices against religions, including the Jews as the rest of his people, in your opinion?

[01:09:37]Armin Shimerman: [01:09:37] In my opinion, no, because in the section about Palosh he mentions that he’s gone off and I’ve forgotten the city. In Europe where he went to study with a rabbi, he wanted to know more about the Kabbalah and which by the way, a hundred years before the Vatican was interested in studying the Kabbalah as well, but that changed almost overnight, but, but D wanted to study the Kabbalah and he studied the, the rabbi of, and I can’t remember the city’s name.

[01:10:08]So I, I don’t think he was as prejudiced because, because of what we were just talking about, he had known these people, he had met them. He had had dinner with them. All of a sudden they weren’t the devils that the church had told him that they were I to believe he believed that, that the Kabbalah had secret knowledge.

[01:10:29] That would be useful for his exploration into discovery of age.

[01:10:34] Jeff Haas: [01:10:34] I also heard potential that I think maybe based on the merchant of Venice, that to some question of Shakespeare’s view of Judaism, what did you hold that, that wasn’t a thing like Shylock, whatnot, or do you

[01:10:46] Armin Shimerman: [01:10:46] think Shylock is a, is a, a play written for two reasons?

[01:10:51] Probably one, there was an infamous case of of a Jewish doctor working for Elizabeth, who was thought to be a trader at that prompted the Jew of Malta written by Marlo which was a very successful play. And, and I’m sure Shakespeare’s partners suggested to him, why don’t you write one of those kinds of plays?

[01:11:14] And so emergent advantages is probably a result of that desire. There is some suggestions that perhaps Shakespeare was enamored of a Jewish girl. There’s no proof of that. Th th there, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of talk about that, but where there is no proof, so it’s a possibility and understanding that he was still married and still had children in, in Stratford, but, but Shakespeare was a.

[01:11:40]Probably not true blue to Anne Hathaway. 

[01:11:45] Jeff Haas: [01:11:45] everything I’ve read is that internationally? He somewhat resented her. I mean, she was older than he was by a bit, but he liked the money, but presented,

[01:11:51]Armin Shimerman: [01:11:51] I don’t know, he got some money from her. That’s true. He probably resented his marriage to her, whether it was entered her or not.

[01:11:59] I don’t know. That’s why this new book Hamlet is, is fascinating to read because it deals with that question. But I, he spent a lot of time away from his family away from his wife away from his children away from Stratford. I know it was a long distance and I knew he made his money in London. But as a husband, I find that very strange behavior.

[01:12:21] Jeff Haas: [01:12:21] Why wouldn’t they move to London? Good question.

[01:12:25] Armin Shimerman: [01:12:25] I’m getting rich. Why didn’t he move his family to London? If he couldn’t go to Stratford because he needed, he was needed in London. Why didn’t he move his family to London? He had residences there. Yeah. So I don’t think it was a a marriage made in heaven the Shakespeare marriage.

[01:12:42]But

[01:12:43] Jeff Haas: [01:12:43] I will say I think your, your novel is fantastic as I’ve kept saying. I think it’s wonderful. So the next book is being released.

[01:12:51] Armin Shimerman: [01:12:51] Eh, contractually it’s it’s meant to come out in November of 2021. I am very close to my final Polish book too. And I, I hope to go into conversation with my publisher to maybe bring the book out earlier than November, and there are reasons for that.

[01:13:08]And then hopefully then the third book would, would come out earlier as well. I, I will, you know, I will let the cat out of the bag and say it’s a cliffhanger for, for book number one. Yes. And so I’d like to get the other two books out so that people don’t feel misused that they go through all those pages only to find out that it’s cliff hanger.

[01:13:31] I, I

[01:13:32] Jeff Haas: [01:13:32] wasn’t gonna say, well, I love the novel. My last words, when I finished the book was God damn with those books too

[01:13:41] Armin Shimerman: [01:13:41] reason for it being a cliffhanger, it was never meant to be one. It is that when I sold the book the publishers were very kind about the writing that they too were very happy with the way I wrote.

[01:13:52]And then they, after buying the book, they said, and how many words do you have? And when I told him there’s jaws dropped and this one book, you have three books. And so in order. To make it three books. I had to come up with two cliffhangers.

[01:14:07] Jeff Haas: [01:14:07] Well, I, I will say I found from it very gutsy. When, when I read the first book, you have to became a book too, before the book one had come out.

[01:14:16] I was like, that’s a lot of confidence in your writing too. You know,

[01:14:22] Armin Shimerman: [01:14:22] I’m, I’m very proud my writing and I’m very flattered about what you’ve said about it. And I think anyone who reads my book hopefully will be in the same opinion, but, but certainly my publishers were one of the first to recognize what I was doing and, and were appreciative of it.

[01:14:39] And they took a big risk on buying three books. And I hope that that risk pays off. And I ask everyone, who’s listening to this to you know, go to amazon.com or go to my publisher’s website, which is www Oh my God, I’ve just forgotten jump masters, sorry, jump master, press. So go to www jump master, press and.com and buy the book there, but you can indeed get it in Amazon as well.

[01:15:04]Jeff Haas: [01:15:04] Yeah, like I said the other thing I do I do as I’m going to, and I’m going to use my, my position right now and say, are there teasers, you can offer me on book two to tide me over till the next look comes out.

[01:15:17] Armin Shimerman: [01:15:17] I can understand the primary mission is to find out if. The count is loyal to the queen.

[01:15:26] So book two was about exploring that. And it, it because of the cliff hanger that I have for book one in necessitated me writing another a hundred pages that I never anticipated in order to deal with the cliffhanger.

[01:15:42] Jeff Haas: [01:15:42] Well, like I said, I, it was great. And I guess, and there’s more people, one more time, captain pullouts deserves a trilogy.

[01:15:47] Just throw that out there when you have time and you’re ready, just do another trilogy. All you need to do is, is, is

[01:15:53] Armin Shimerman: [01:15:53] fascinating character. And you know, that’s not a bad idea. Thank you for that. It is he’s a fascinating character and could indeed deserve a novel of his own. Yeah.

[01:16:03] Jeff Haas: [01:16:03] And this one, thank you so much for talking with me, Mr.

[01:16:05] Chairman, you, you are absolutely fascinating. The, the writing was fantastic. It was great to talk to someone who understands the material of Shakespeare, so well as well. And thank you so much for spending your time with me.

[01:16:16] Armin Shimerman: [01:16:16] My pleasure, Jeff, thank you for the opportunity. Definitely.

[01:16:19] Jeff Haas: [01:16:19] My pleasure. I have a very good night and hope you come back sometime to talk about book two.

[01:16:24]Armin Shimerman: [01:16:24] Ask

[01:16:24] Jeff Haas: [01:16:24] me, I’ll be there. Definitely will. Thank you so much, sir.

[01:16:27] Armin Shimerman: [01:16:27] You’re welcome. Bye bye now. Bye.

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